Thursday, February 15, 2007

Caps/Lightning Preview

Washington Capitals (23-26-8, 54 points)
Tampa Bay Lightning (32-24-2, 66 points)

Television: Comcast Sports Net
Radio: Sportstalk 980-AM
Gametime: 7:30 PM ET

The Capitals lineup will have a different feel as they start a three game road trip in Tampa Thursday night. After longtime franchise goaltender Olie Kolzig was injured in Monday's practice, Brent Johnson will try to fill the slack until he can return.

And when will Kolzig return? There seems to be some debate over that issue. It has been reported that he has a partial tear in the MCL in his left knee, and if true the original report of him missing only three weeks might be wishful thinking at best. If the team becomes mathematically eliminated at some point from the playoff race, it might be in their best interest to shut him down for the season and not risk rushing him back. This could also be a big opportunity for Johnson to reestablish his game.

Brian Pothier and John Erskine accompanied the team on their trip and it appears that Pothier will dress for Thursday's game. He has been taken off of the injured reserve and listed in the lineup by the NHL. Erskine also seems ready to return anytime and if he doesn't appear in Tampa he could very well return for Sunday's game in Pittsburgh. Their returns will result in some roster moves as one or two players will be sent back to Hershey. Those roster moves have been heavily debated by fans over the last few days and the assumption is that anyone of the following: Schultz, Green, Nycholat, or Beech could be the ones to go.

This game could represent the Caps last chance to make a run at the playoffs. Since they last played in their 5-2 loss against the Rangers Saturday night, they have seen Florida move in front of them again putting Washington in last place in the Southeast Division and 14 in the Eastern Conference. They now stand 10 points behind the Montreal Canadians for the 8th and final playoff spot.

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